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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Day 9/Dream Roll: Thank You for Being There, My College Crush

This photo is from my Targum friend John Petrick's Facebook page.
That is Chris at the very right end of the table, with the hat on.
I'm not pictured. John often gathered "Targumites" at his family's Point Pleasant home
on the Jersey Shore, but I couldn't always make it.
It's about a year since my Rutgers Daily Targum friends and I gathered at an imposing old New York church on the Upper West Side to grieve the loss of our editor in chief and friend. He was a young man we honored and respected as students and budding journalists. He was 55.

It seems he took his own life, though the details were not released, leaving behind a first wife; a beautiful young adult daughter from that marriage; a pretty second wife; and a cute little boy with chestnut-brown hair who was full of mischief at the memorial service.

The clergyman who gave the eulogy pointed to the enormous, fat, fresh Christmas tree and the evergreen swags hanging up high. He said Chris had been there to help put them up not too many days before.

Our friend's name was Chris/Christopher, and he did things like call guys on the newspaper staff "Mr." so and so. He circled typos on the front page. He took a group of us on a tour of the New York Times on West 43rd Street. He pledged a frat.

I nursed a crush on Chris for years. Even though he had a steady girlfriend and I had a steady boyfriend, both attending college on the New Brunswick campus with us. Crushes, I think, can co-exist that way. I was spending five days/evenings a week at the Targum office with my friends, all of those smart, pre-law or journalism majors, mostly male. My boyfriend was a horticulture major on the agricultural campus. I loved and treasured him but I didn't see him every day.

I bet a lot of us had a crush on Chris, in retrospect. It was hard not to, if not for beauty, then for brains. He was tall and trim with brown hair and usually, glasses.

I also found it magical that his last name was Mahon, since that was my mother's maiden name, and of course my grandparents' Jim and Alice had that last name, as did my uncles and cousins. But our Mahon was Irish; his was not.

I still remember the Targum holiday party in sophomore year. I had not started dating my boyfriend yet, but would by Valentine's Day, when he sent me a florist delivery and we had our first kiss.

For that holiday party, I had slipped out of my daily jeans in my dorm room and put on a skirt. I wore a sheer cream-colored blouse though which a pretty camisole was visible. I put on heels and probably even a little makeup. I smelled like Love's Baby Soft.

Nothing happened, though I think he may have asked me to dance once in between fast dances to Bruce Springsteen and the inevitable chorus-line kick to Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York." [Hey, this was 1980 and we were pretty much hardscrabble Jersey kids who hoped to make it big as writers. Many of us did.]

But the other night, I had a dream about Chris. We were dancing; nothing sexual about it, just dancing in an empty room. He looked good, in a suit. I don't remember what I was wearing.

The conversation went something like this:

I always had a crush on you. Did you know that?
He smiled. 
I think everyone knew that, he said, half teasing. Modestly. No boasting.
Thank you for being there for me to have a crush on.
And he led me gently around the dance floor.

That's it, that's all. My communication with Chris from the Great Beyond.

Here is the obituary on I think maybe Chris and family had a home in Poughkeepsie area? Not sure. He had graduated from NYU Law School and had a very big job as head of legal and compliance for an important business.

Mahon, Christopher James., 55, of N.Y.C , NY died on December 13, 2016. Arrangements under the direction of the Michael Torsone Memorial Funeral Home, Inc.

Poughkeepsie, NY, 845-452-7700.

I'm glad, at least, that he seems to be at peace. 

Dance on, Chris, beyond the cloud cover and winter stars. You will always lead.


  1. How sad, but what a lovely, delicate tribute.

  2. Thank you, Kim. Yes, so sad. Truly hard to grapple with. The leader, the best and the brightest....

  3. This is so sweet, Alice.

    1. Hi Eileen. Thank you. Sad to lose someone and especially around Christmas, merry Christmastime to you and yours